The Jackson Sun is calling for reform of the process for getting a specialty license plate.
There are plenty of things wrong with the way we create specialty plates in this state, but the primary one is this: It is a legislative instead of an administrative function. To create a plate, those wanting it must gather 1,000 signatures of people who also want the plate. Then, it must be approved by the legislature and signed by the governor.
The Tennessee Equality Project floated a specialty plate bill for the TEP Foundation for a bit in 2007 and 2008. Some of you may recall that it caused a bit of a stir in the blogosphere in 2007. Unfortunately, it got misidentified as an "idea plate." And that's when imaginations took off. In fact, it was a nonprofit organization license plate. Yes, of course, ideas animate nonprofit organizations. That's why they are required to have mission statements. To a degree, all nonprofit plates are idea plates. But most nonprofit plates don't spell out the idea in any detail. A logo and a name are usually the end of it. We just wanted the same opportunity to raise money and get the name of the TEP Foundation out there like Ducks Unlimited or the University of Tennessee. Needless to say, we've got a long way to go on that one.
But if the Secretary of State grants the TEP Foundation a solicitation permit and the IRS grants it 501(c)(3) status, then that organization like any other ought to be able to apply for a specialty plate in a reasonably nonpolitical process. The requirement for a certain number of preordered plates could be maintained to prevent an endless proliferation.